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by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008

GLENDALE, Ariz. --- Phoenix Coyotes Charities presented Special Olympics Arizona with $50,000 Saturday to sponsor a trip to the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games for the Flagstaff Mountaineers Unified Floor Hockey Team who will represent the United States in the floor hockey category this February.

“Special Olympics Arizona is such an integral part of the sports community around the state,” said Douglas Moss, president and chief operating officer of the Phoenix Coyotes. “We’re proud to have the privilege of providing these much-deserving athletes with the opportunity to compete at this global competition.”

The funds donated will provide equipment, uniforms, travel, hotel, training and competition expenses for the athletes. Involvement in Special Olympics is always offered at no cost to the athlete, whether a local practice or World Games experience.

“Thanks to the generous donation made by the Coyotes, Team USA athletes from Arizona will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the 2009 World Winter Games,” said Tom Fraker, president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics Arizona. “This is the largest sponsorship we have ever received from any professional sports team here in the Valley.”

The Flagstaff Mountaineers were selected in February to represent the United States at the 2009 event. Sixteen athletes and partners will travel to the games with hopes to bring home the gold medal.

“Our team has been training rigorously to get ready for February’s games,” said Bruce Baldwin, head coach of the Flagstaff Mountaineers and 20-year Special Olympics volunteer. “We’ve been practicing for two hours every Sunday and participating in a fitness program on Mondays since the beginning of this year and will continue that schedule until we leave.”

The 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held Feb. 7-13 in Boise, Idaho. Nearly 3,000 athletes from over 110 countries – aided by more than 6,000 volunteers, 800 event officials and thousands of family members and friends – are expected to compete in events including alpine and cross country skiing, figure skating, floor hockey, snowboarding, snowshoeing and speed skating.

Recent World Games were held in Shanghai, China (2007); Nagano, Japan (2005); Dublin, Ireland (2003); and Anchorage, Alaska (2001).

“Experiences like the World Games are the key to building the self confidence and self esteem of these wonderful athletes to assist them in fully integrating into their respective communities and enjoy the quality of life deserved by all,” added Fraker.

Phoenix Coyotes Charities, a registered 501(c)(3) organization and the exclusive sponsor of Special Olympics Arizona Floor Hockey, is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life throughout Arizona communities by supporting non-profit organizations that promote healthcare, education, cultural arts and sports-related programs for children.

“When we first started Coyotes Charities, our goal was to reach out with the intent of bettering the lives of children throughout the Arizona community, and in this case, the athletes of Special Olympics Arizona,” said John Breslow, chairman of Phoenix Coyotes Charities. “This Special Olympics Arizona sponsorship epitomizes exactly what the organization was created to do.”

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion among people with and without intellectual disabilities.

For more information about Phoenix Coyotes Charities, call 623-772-3200.
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